Summer Pet Safety

July 28, 2009 The record high temperature in Chicago was 105 degrees on July 24, 1934, according to the National Weather Service. More recently, summer temperatures have also hit 100 or more.

Pets can suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke just as easily as people can.

Chicago veterinarian Dr. Sheldon Rubin has some advice tips on how to prevent summer heat injuries for pets.

1. Always make sure your pet has plenty of water
2. Proper shade is important as well if they are outside and it's also important to monitor them if they'll be outside for more than 10 minutes
3. Don't shave your pets -- this could expose them to sun burns and can actually make them chilly on summer nights. Consider using a grooming product, like the FURminator deShedding Tool, to reduce heavy, thick undercoats that can insulate pets to the point of possibly over heating
4. Never leave a pet in the car, even if it is, "just for a minute" -- a car's interior can reach over 100 degrees on a hot day, even if it's parked in the shade
5. Avoid walking pets during peak sun hours, the asphalt and concrete retains the heat and can hurt the pads of their feet.

Q&A WITH Dr. Sheldon Rubin

During the summer, what are some of the dangers pets face due to the heat?

Dogs and cats can face a variety of illnesses due to extreme summer temperatures. Dogs and cats can both suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. There is also a danger for dehydration if water is not available to them during these heat waves.

What are some mistakes pet owners make when it comes to the summer heat and their pets?

  • Walking or excising pets during peak hours -- the asphalt and concrete retains a lot of the heat from the sun. This heat can really hurt the pads of the dog's feet; it would be like a person walking bare foot.
  • To protect the animal's skin from sunburns, use a pet-approved sunscreen on them. Never use sunscreen formulated for humans on your pets; it can cause excessive drooling, thirst or diarrhea.
  • Avoid taking pets to crowded outdoor events such as firework displays, concerts or fairs. The noise and crowds, combined with the extreme heat, can be a stressful and unsafe place for pets.
  • Don't be a repeated offender, monitor your pet while they are outside and don't leave them outside longer than 10-15 minutes.

What are signs of pet heat exhaustion or heat stoke?

  • For heat exhaustion dogs may exhibit heavy, excessive panting, being lethargic, excessive drooling. And with heat stroke pets will possibly collapsing and vomiting.

What should a pet owner do if their dog is experiencing these symptoms?

  • For heat exhaustion getting the dog or pet to a shaded area or an air conditioned area is very important and if dousing them with cool water from a hose to help lower the body temperatures back to normal. If these symptoms occur or your pet becomes unresponsive taking them to the closes animal medical vicinity is your next immediate form of action.

About Dr. Sheldon (Shelly) Rubin

Dr. Rubin is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and practices at Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago. In the past he has appeared on national media shows such as Oprah and Regis & Kelly as well as local radio and television programs in the area. He was also chosen as one of Chicago's top veterinarians by Town & Country magazine and Chicago magazine. Dr. Sheldon is an expert when it comes to pet health and safety and can offer viewers the important medical information many pet parents may not be aware of. Additional information can be found at

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